If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Africa

There is something truly disconcerting about a one-ton beast staring down your vehicle from a mere yard away. He stands there, feet planted firmly upon the dirt road and head cocked to one side, his massive horns tilted like a pair of sharpened goalposts set askew after a rowdy collegiate victory, and you are forced to confront your own shallow materialism. Because rather than reacting rationally with a measure of concern for your personal safety, you are instead preoccupied with a silent plea: Please don’t hurt my car.

The creature lumbers forward toward your window, which you have left down because you have already become addicted to the thrill of witnessing large animal heads poke into your car in search of grain pellets and carrots. Like a trained dog, that is all this immense quadruped is really after – a treat. Yet he cannot insert his gigantic head very far into your vehicle, as those enormous horns will not allow it. You hear them clatter and scrape against the roof, and as you reach for a carrot, you repeat your prayerful mantra: Please don’t hurt my car. Read More

Funny Places


My brother Brian once encouraged me to tag along on a social call that did not appeal to me.  My reluctance was born from a previous visit that lasted much longer than I had anticipated.  Even though Brian assured me that we would leave for home whenever I liked, I wasn’t convinced that I would have the opportunity to express that desire without offending our host.   Somehow we arrived at a clever solution:  a code word, one unlikely to come up in normal conversation yet not so obscure as to raise suspicion, would be my subtle signal that it was time to go.

“What’s the code?” asked Brian.

“Put-In-Bay,” I declared instantly.  Why the name of a village on Lake Erie’s South Bass Island should spring to my lips remains a mystery, though I suspect my brain subconsciously fetched the handiest noun that might elicit a laugh.  Indeed, it did bring forth a chuckle from my brother, partly because the phrase Put-In-Bay is naturally funny and also due to the potential awkwardness of inserting the unwieldy moniker into casual conversation. Read More

Cheap Thrills


Bring back these two wonderfully corny attractions, and I’ll make a beeline for Sandusky.

Amusement park season is arriving soon in Ohio, and I am less than excited.  The perennial allure of Cedar Point and Kings Island, which bookend our stoically Midwestern state to the north and south like a pair of Mad magazines bracketing a law library, will surely attract the usual stream of thrill seekers and families in search of a summer diversion.  Local media will carry the customary publicity puffery touting the heights and speeds of each park’s marquee roller coasters, and we shall be further enticed by breathless promises of all that is NEW for 2010!  I don’t begrudge anyone the pleasure of giddy anticipation, but I cannot muster much enthusiasm.

It wasn’t always this way.  There was a time when I looked forward to a day at either of our big amusement parks with the same measure of excitement that was provoked by the imminence of my birthday or the arrival of Christmas.  Actually, now that I think about it, that remains the case today, as I no longer get worked up about my birthday or Christmas.  But there was a time – and I’m sure you can accurately identify it – when all three of these events represented the pinnacle of fun and enjoyment. Read More

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